Many GWAS have identified novel loci associated with common diseases, but have focused only on main effects of individual genetic variants rather than interactions with environmental factors (GxE). Identification of GxE interactions is particularly important for coronary heart disease (CHD), a major preventable source of morbidity and mortality with strong non-genetic risk factors. Atherosclerosis is the major cause of CHD, and coronary artery calcification (CAC) is directly correlated with quantity of coronary atherosclerotic plaque. In the current study, we tested for genetic variants influencing extent of CAC via interaction with smoking (GxS), by conducting a GxS discovery GWAS in Genetic Epidemiology Network of Arteriopathy (GENOA) sibships (N = 915 European Americans) followed by replication in Framingham Heart Study (FHS) sibships (N = 1025 European Americans). Generalized estimating equations accounted for the correlation within sibships in strata-specific groups of smokers and nonsmokers, as well as GxS interaction. Primary analysis found SNPs that showed suggestive associations (p≤10−5) in GENOA GWAS, but these index SNPs did not replicate in FHS. However, secondary analysis was able to replicate candidate gene regions in FHS using other SNPs (+/−250 kb of GENOA index SNP). In smoker and nonsmoker groups, replicated genes included TCF7L2 (p = 6.0×10−5) and WWOX (p = 4.5×10−6); and TNFRSF8 (p = 7.8×10−5), respectively. For GxS interactions, replicated genes included TBC1D4 (p = 6.9×10−5) and ADAMTS9 (P = 7.1×10−5). Interestingly, these genes are involved in inflammatory pathways mediated by the NF-κB axis. Since smoking is known to induce chronic and systemic inflammation, association of these genes likely reflects roles in CAC development via inflammatory pathways. Furthermore, the NF-κB axis regulates bone remodeling, a key physiological process in CAC development. In conclusion, GxS GWAS has yielded evidence for novel loci that are associated with CAC via interaction with smoking, providing promising new targets for future population-based and functional studies of CAC development.
The current research examined the longitudinal relationship between social engagement and personality traits in older adults. Specifically, the present research examined how engagement in family and community roles related to conscientiousness, agreeableness, and emotional stability in a sample of 100 Illinois residents age 60 to 86 assessed twice over a period of two and a half years. Social engagement and personality traits were prospectively related to conscientiousness and agreeableness over time in three ways. First, concurrent relationships during Wave 1 suggest that agreeable older adults are more socially engaged. Next, Wave 1 standing on both personality traits and social engagement predicted respective change over time. In addition, changes in engagement and personality traits covaried over time. The specific patterns present in the current study suggest that while some relationships were consistent with research findings in young adulthood and midlife, role investment in old age may have a distinctly different meaning than role investment earlier in the lifespan. These patterns suggest that personality traits can both inform our understanding of engagement during older adulthood and that personality traits may be meaningful outcomes of the aging experience in their own right.
Background.Little is known about type-specific associations between prevalent human papillomavirus (HPV) infections and risk of acquiring other HPV types in men. Data on natural clustering of HPV types are needed as a prevaccine distribution to which postvaccine data can be compared.
Methods.Using data from a randomized controlled trial of male circumcision in Kisumu, Kenya, adjusted mean survival ratios were estimated for acquisition of any-HPV, high-risk (HR) HPV, and individual HR-HPV types among men uninfected as compared to those infected with vaccine-relevant HPV types 16, 18, 31, 45, 6, or 11 at baseline.
Results.Among 1097 human immunodeficiency virus–negative, uncircumcised men, 2303 incident HPV infections were detected over 2534 person-years of follow-up. Although acquisition of individual HR-HPV types varied by baseline HPV type, there was no clear evidence of shorter times to acquisition among men without vaccine-relevant HPV-16, -18, -31, -45, -6, or -11 infections at baseline, as compared to men who did have these infections at baseline.
Conclusions.These prospective data on combinations of HPV infections over time do not suggest the potential for postvaccination HPV type replacement. Future surveillance studies are needed to definitely determine whether elimination of HPV types by vaccination will alter the HPV type distribution in the population.
Merkel cell carcinoma (MCC) is an aggressive cutaneous malignancy, but little is known about the presence or characteristics of MCC in mainland China. A retrospective chart review was conducted to describe the clinical profile of Merkel cell carcinoma in China.
At 18 cancer or dermatology hospitals in metropolitan centers from the six geographical regions of mainland China, approximately 3,100,000 pathology database and medical records were searched for cases that had a pathological diagnosis of MCC between 1970 and 2009. A case series was compiled from retrospective chart reviews of identified MCC patients.
Eight out of 18 participating hospitals reported at least one record of a patient with a pathological diagnosis of MCC, and a total of 22 cases were identified. The median age of patients was 65.5, and 59% were female. The median time from the appearance of a lesion to the time of biopsy was 6 months, and the most common location of lesions was the head and neck. The most common treatment used was surgery alone.
MCC appears to be uncommon in mainland China. Patients in this series are elderly, often had lesions on the head/neck region, and most commonly received surgery alone as treatment. In contrast with MCC in Western countries, the current series' patients were all of Asian ethnicity, had larger lesions at presentation, and none were documented as having HIV or other forms of immunosuppression.
Merkel cell carcinoma; China; skin cancer; case-series
Implementation of trachoma control strategies requires reliable district-level estimates of trachomatous inflammation–follicular (TF), generally collected using the recommended gold-standard cluster randomized surveys (CRS). Integrated Threshold Mapping (ITM) has been proposed as an integrated and cost-effective means of rapidly surveying trachoma in order to classify districts according to treatment thresholds. ITM differs from CRS in a number of important ways, including the use of a school-based sampling platform for children aged 1–9 and a different age distribution of participants. This study uses computerised sampling simulations to compare the performance of these survey designs and evaluate the impact of varying key parameters.
Realistic pseudo gold standard data for 100 districts were generated that maintained the relative risk of disease between important sub-groups and incorporated empirical estimates of disease clustering at the household, village and district level. To simulate the different sampling approaches, 20 clusters were selected from each district, with individuals sampled according to the protocol for ITM and CRS. Results showed that ITM generally under-estimated the true prevalence of TF over a range of epidemiological settings and introduced more district misclassification according to treatment thresholds than did CRS. However, the extent of underestimation and resulting misclassification was found to be dependent on three main factors: (i) the district prevalence of TF; (ii) the relative risk of TF between enrolled and non-enrolled children within clusters; and (iii) the enrollment rate in schools.
Although in some contexts the two methodologies may be equivalent, ITM can introduce a bias-dependent shift as prevalence of TF increases, resulting in a greater risk of misclassification around treatment thresholds. In addition to strengthening the evidence base around choice of trachoma survey methodologies, this study illustrates the use of a simulated approach in addressing operational research questions for trachoma but also other NTDs.
Reliable district-level prevalence estimates of active trachoma are essential to targeting control interventions. While cluster randomised surveys (CRS) remain the recommended strategy for obtaining these estimates, more rapid and cost-effective methods that can be integrated with other diseases are under investigation. One proposed method is Integrated Threshold Mapping (ITM), which incorporates a school-based platform into the sampling protocol. This study uses a computerised sampling approach to evaluate whether ITM and CRS are equivalent, and explore the impact of varying key parameters on the performance of these sampling methodologies. The results from these simulations reflect a known limitation of school-based sampling: that resulting prevalence estimates are unreliable when the enrollment is low and/or the risk of disease in schools differs from communities. However, quantification of the performance of ITM at the district level highlights the variation in performance in different contexts and provides important information for national control programmes. The results from this study strengthen the evidence base around trachoma sampling methodologies and demonstrate the advantages of using a simulated approach to evaluate different sampling scenarios.
A more thorough understanding of the differences in DNA methylation (DNAm) profiles in populations may hold promise for identifying molecular mechanisms through which genetic and environmental factors jointly contribute to human diseases. Inflammation is a key molecular mechanism underlying several chronic diseases including cardiovascular disease, and it affects DNAm profile on both global and locus-specific levels. To understand the impact of inflammation on the DNAm of the human genome, we investigated DNAm profiles of peripheral blood leukocytes from 966 African American participants in the Genetic Epidemiology Network of Arteriopathy (GENOA) study. By testing the association of DNAm sites on CpG islands of over 14,000 genes with C-reactive protein (CRP), an inflammatory biomarker of cardiovascular disease, we identified 257 DNAm sites in 240 genes significantly associated with serum levels of CRP adjusted for age, sex, body mass index and smoking status, and corrected for multiple testing. Of the significantly associated DNAm sites, 80.5% were hypomethylated with higher CRP levels. The most significant Gene Ontology terms enriched in the genes associated with the CRP levels were immune system process, immune response, defense response, response to stimulus, and response to stress, which are all linked to the functions of leukocytes. While the CRP-associated DNAm may be cell-type specific, understanding the DNAm association with CRP in peripheral blood leukocytes of multi-ethnic populations can assist in unveiling the molecular mechanism of how the process of inflammation affects the risks of developing common disease through epigenetic modifications.
There remains a lack of epidemiological data on the geographical distribution of trachoma to support global mapping and scale up of interventions for the elimination of trachoma. The Global Atlas of Trachoma (GAT) was launched in 2011 to address these needs and provide standardised, updated and accessible maps. This paper uses data included in the GAT to describe the geographical distribution and burden of trachoma in Africa.
Data assembly used structured searches of published and unpublished literature to identify cross-sectional epidemiological data on the burden of trachoma since 1980. Survey data were abstracted into a standardised database and mapped using geographical information systems (GIS) software. The characteristics of all surveys were summarized by country according to data source, time period, and survey methodology. Estimates of the current population at risk were calculated for each country and stratified by endemicity class.
At the time of writing, 1342 records are included in the database representing surveys conducted between 1985 and 2012. These data were provided by direct contact with national control programmes and academic researchers (67%), peer-reviewed publications (17%) and unpublished reports or theses (16%). Prevalence data on active trachoma are available in 29 of the 33 countries in Africa classified as endemic for trachoma, and 1095 (20.6%) districts have representative data collected through population-based prevalence surveys. The highest prevalence of active trachoma and trichiasis remains in the Sahel area of West Africa and Savannah areas of East and Central Africa and an estimated 129.4 million people live in areas of Africa confirmed to be trachoma endemic.
The Global Atlas of Trachoma provides the most contemporary and comprehensive summary of the burden of trachoma within Africa. The GAT highlights where future mapping is required and provides an important planning tool for scale-up and surveillance of trachoma control.
In order to target resources and drugs to reach trachoma elimination targets by the year 2020, data on the burden of disease are required. Using prevalence data in African countries derived from the Global Atlas of Trachoma (GAT), the distribution of trachoma continues to be focused in East and West Sub-Saharan Africa, North Africa and a few endemic countries in Central Sub-Saharan Africa. Currently, 129.4 million people are estimated to live in areas that are confirmed to be trachoma endemic and 98 million are known to require access to the SAFE strategy. The maps and information presented in this work highlight the GAT as important open-access planning and advocacy tool for efforts to finalize trachoma mapping and assist national programmes in planning interventions.
Coronary heart disease (CHD) is the major cause of death in the United States. Coronary artery calcification (CAC) scores are independent predictors of CHD. African Americans (AA) have higher rates of CHD but are less well-studied in genomic studies. We assembled the largest AA data resource currently available with measured CAC to identify associated genetic variants.
We analyzed log transformed CAC quantity (ln(CAC + 1)), for association with ~2.5 million single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and performed an inverse-variance weighted meta-analysis on results for 5,823 AA from 8 studies. Heritability was calculated using family studies. The most significant SNPs among AAs were evaluated in European Ancestry (EA) CAC data; conversely, the significance of published SNPs for CAC/CHD in EA was queried within our AA meta-analysis.
Heritability of CAC was lower in AA (~30%) than previously reported for EA (~50%). No SNP reached genome wide significance (p < 5E-08). Of 67 SNPs with p < 1E-05 in AA there was no evidence of association in EA CAC data. Four SNPs in regions previously implicated in CAC/CHD (at 9p21 and PHACTR1) in EA reached nominal significance for CAC in AA, with concordant direction. Among AA, rs16905644 (p = 4.08E-05) had the strongest association in the 9p21 region.
While we observed substantial heritability for CAC in AA, we failed to identify loci for CAC at genome-wide significant levels despite having adequate power to detect alleles with moderate to large effects. Although suggestive signals in AA were apparent at 9p21 and additional CAC and CAD EA loci, overall the data suggest that even larger samples and an ethnic specific focus will be required for GWAS discoveries for CAC in AA populations.
Atherosclerosis; Coronary artery calcium; Genetics; Meta-analysis; African-American
Planar optodes were used to visualize oxygen distribution patterns associated with a coral reef associated green algae (Chaetomorpha sp.) and a hermatypic coral (Favia sp.) separately, as standalone organisms, and placed in close proximity mimicking coral-algal interactions. Oxygen patterns were assessed in light and dark conditions and under varying flow regimes. The images show discrete high oxygen concentration regions above the organisms during lighted periods and low oxygen in the dark. Size and orientation of these areas were dependent on flow regime. For corals and algae in close proximity the 2D optodes show areas of extremely low oxygen concentration at the interaction interfaces under both dark (18.4 ± 7.7 µmol O2 L- 1) and daylight (97.9 ± 27.5 µmol O2 L- 1) conditions. These images present the first two-dimensional visualization of oxygen gradients generated by benthic reef algae and corals under varying flow conditions and provide a 2D depiction of previously observed hypoxic zones at coral algae interfaces. This approach allows for visualization of locally confined, distinctive alterations of oxygen concentrations facilitated by benthic organisms and provides compelling evidence for hypoxic conditions at coral-algae interaction zones.
Planar optode; Dissolved oxygen; Interaction; Algae; Coral; Two dimensional visualization
Benthic primary producers in tropical reef ecosystems can alter biogeochemical cycling and microbial processes in the surrounding seawater. In order to quantify these influences, we measured rates of photosynthesis, respiration, and dissolved organic carbon (DOC) exudate release by the dominant benthic primary producers (calcifying and non-calcifying macroalgae, turf-algae and corals) on reefs of Mo‘orea French Polynesia. Subsequently, we examined planktonic and benthic microbial community response to these dissolved exudates by measuring bacterial growth rates and oxygen and DOC fluxes in dark and daylight incubation experiments. All benthic primary producers exuded significant quantities of DOC (roughly 10% of their daily fixed carbon) into the surrounding water over a diurnal cycle. The microbial community responses were dependent upon the source of the exudates and whether the inoculum of microbes included planktonic or planktonic plus benthic communities. The planktonic and benthic microbial communities in the unamended control treatments exhibited opposing influences on DO concentration where respiration dominated in treatments comprised solely of plankton and autotrophy dominated in treatments with benthic plus plankon microbial communities. Coral exudates (and associated inorganic nutrients) caused a shift towards a net autotrophic microbial metabolism by increasing the net production of oxygen by the benthic and decreasing the net consumption of oxygen by the planktonic microbial community. In contrast, the addition of algal exudates decreased the net primary production by the benthic communities and increased the net consumption of oxygen by the planktonic microbial community thereby resulting in a shift towards net heterotrophic community metabolism. When scaled up to the reef habitat, exudate-induced effects on microbial respiration did not outweigh the high oxygen production rates of benthic algae, such that reef areas dominated with benthic primary producers were always estimated to be net autotrophic. However, estimates of microbial consumption of DOC at the reef scale surpassed the DOC exudation rates suggesting net consumption of DOC at the reef-scale. In situ mesocosm experiments using custom-made benthic chambers placed over different types of benthic communities exhibited identical trends to those found in incubation experiments. Here we provide the first comprehensive dataset examining direct primary producer-induced, and indirect microbially mediated alterations of elemental cycling in both benthic and planktonic reef environments over diurnal cycles. Our results highlight the variability of the influence of different benthic primary producers on microbial metabolism in reef ecosystems and the potential implications for energy transfer to higher trophic levels during shifts from coral to algal dominance on reefs.
Coral; Algae; Microbe; Organic carbon; Metabolism; Central Pacific
Data on the acquisition of human papillomavirus (HPV) infection in men are limited, especially from developing regions including Africa. The objective of this study was to characterise and determine the risk factors of HPV acquisition among a cohort of uncircumcised men participating in a randomised controlled trial (RCT) of male circumcision in Kisumu, Kenya.
Penile exfoliated cell specimens were collected at baseline, 6- and 12-month follow-up visits from the glans/coronal sulcus and shaft of men enrolled in the control arm of the RCT between 2002 and 2005. All participants were HIV seronegative, aged 17–24 years at baseline and remained uncircumcised over follow-up. Specimens were tested with GP5+/6+ PCR to detect 44 HPV types. Parametric frailty models were used to assess risk factors of HPV incidence.
The median age of 966 participants was 20 years. The median follow-up time was 12.1 months. The incidence rate (IR) of any HPV infection was 49.3/1000 person-months with HPV16 having the highest IR (10.9/1000 person-months). The strongest risk factors for overall HPV incidence were bathing less frequently than daily (adjusted HR=2.6; 95% CI 1.0 to 6.5) and having ≥2 female sexual partners in the past year (adjusted HR=1.6; 95% CI 1.2 to 2.1).
HPV IRs were notably high in this cohort of high-risk, uncircumcised men from Kisumu, Kenya, with the number of sexual partners and bathing frequency being the strongest risk factors.
Interferons (IFN) are essential antiviral cytokines that establish the cellular antiviral state through upregulation of hundreds of interferon-stimulated genes (ISGs), most of which have uncharacterized functions and mechanisms. We identified Cholesterol-25-hydroxylase (Ch25h) as an antiviral ISG that can convert cholesterol to a soluble antiviral factor, 25-hydroxycholesterol (25HC). Ch25h expression or 25HC treatment in cultured cells broadly inhibits enveloped viruses including VSV, HSV, HIV, and MHV68 as well as acutely pathogenic EBOV, RVFV, RSSEV, and Nipah viruses under BSL4 conditions. As a soluble oxysterol, 25HC inhibits viral entry by blocking membrane fusion between virus and cell. In animal models, Ch25h-knockout mice were more susceptible to MHV68 lytic infection. Moreover, administration of 25HC in humanized mice suppressed HIV replication and rescued T-cell depletion. Thus, our studies demonstrate a unique mechanism by which IFN achieves its antiviral state through the production of a natural oxysterol to inhibit viral entry and implicate membrane-modifying oxysterols as potential antiviral therapeutics.
The Rat Genome Database (RGD) is the premier resource for genetic, genomic and phenotype data for the laboratory rat, Rattus norvegicus. In addition to organizing biological data from rats, the RGD team focuses on manual curation of gene–disease associations for rat, human and mouse. In this work, we have analyzed disease-associated strains, quantitative trait loci (QTL) and genes from rats. These disease objects form the basis for seven disease portals. Among disease portals, the cardiovascular disease and obesity/metabolic syndrome portals have the highest number of rat strains and QTL. These two portals share 398 rat QTL, and these shared QTL are highly concentrated on rat chromosomes 1 and 2. For disease-associated genes, we performed gene ontology (GO) enrichment analysis across portals using RatMine enrichment widgets. Fifteen GO terms, five from each GO aspect, were selected to profile enrichment patterns of each portal. Of the selected biological process (BP) terms, ‘regulation of programmed cell death’ was the top enriched term across all disease portals except in the obesity/metabolic syndrome portal where ‘lipid metabolic process’ was the most enriched term. ‘Cytosol’ and ‘nucleus’ were common cellular component (CC) annotations for disease genes, but only the cancer portal genes were highly enriched with ‘nucleus’ annotations. Similar enrichment patterns were observed in a parallel analysis using the DAVID functional annotation tool. The relationship between the preselected 15 GO terms and disease terms was examined reciprocally by retrieving rat genes annotated with these preselected terms. The individual GO term–annotated gene list showed enrichment in physiologically related diseases. For example, the ‘regulation of blood pressure’ genes were enriched with cardiovascular disease annotations, and the ‘lipid metabolic process’ genes with obesity annotations. Furthermore, we were able to enhance enrichment of neurological diseases by combining ‘G-protein coupled receptor binding’ annotated genes with ‘protein kinase binding’ annotated genes.
Cervical cancer is the most common cancer in women in low-income countries. Although cervical cancer incidence and mortality is higher in HIV-positive women, resource limitations restrict the implementation of systematic screening programs in these women. We explored the potential for targeted screening by assessing the prevalence, severity and predictors of cervical squamous intra-epithelial lesions (SILs) in HIV-positive women in Cameroon.
Methods and findings
We conducted a cross-sectional study of women on antiretroviral therapy in Cameroon. Socio-demographic, behavioral, and clinical information was obtained from eligible women. Cervical exfoliated cells were then collected, a conventional cytology performed and epithelial lesions classified according to the Bethesda 2001 system.
A total of 282 women, aged 19 to 68 years, were enrolled in this study. The median CD4 count was 179 cells/microliter (interquartile range: 100 to 271). SILs were detected in 43.5% of the 276 women with satisfactory samples: including atypical squamous cells of unknown significance (ASCUS) 0.7%, low-grade SIL (LSIL) 25.0%, atypical squamous cells, cannot exclude high grade lesions (ASC-H) 14.5%, and high-grade SIL (HSIL) 3.3%. None of the demographic or clinical characteristics considered significantly predicted the presence of any SILs or the presence of severe lesions requiring colposcopy.
The prevalence of SIL in women on antiretroviral therapy in Cameroon was high underscoring the need for screening and care in this population. In the absence of any accurate demographic or clinical predictor of SIL, targeted screening does not seem feasible. Alternative affordable screening options need to be explored.
Cervical neoplasm; HIV; Screening; Cameroon; Epidemiology
Training through traditional workshops is relatively ineffective for changing counseling practices. Tele-conferencing Supervision (TCS) was developed to provide remote, live supervision for training motivational interviewing (MI).
97 community drug treatment counselors completed a 2-day MI workshop and were randomized to: live supervision via tele-conferencing (TCS; n=32), standard tape-based supervision (Tape; n=32), or workshop alone (Workshop; n=33). Supervision conditions received 5 weekly supervision sessions at their sites using actors as standard patients. Sessions with clients were rated for MI skill with the Motivational Interviewing Treatment Integrity (MITI) coding system pre-workshop and 1, 8, and 20 weeks post-workshop. Mixed effects linear models were used to test training condition on MI skill at 8 and 20 weeks.
TCS scored better than Workshop on the MITI for Spirit (mean difference = 0.76; p < .0001; d = 1.01) and Empathy (mean difference = 0.68; p < .001; d = 0.74). Tape supervision fell between TCS and Workshop, with Tape superior to Workshop for Spirit (mean difference = 0.40; p < .05). TCS was superior to Workshop in reducing MI non-adherence and increasing MI adherence, and was superior to Workshp and Tape in increasing the reflection to question ratio. Tape was superior to TCS in increasing complex reflections. Percentage of counselors meeting proficiency differed significantly between training conditions for the most stringent threshold (Spirit and Empathy scores ≥ 6), and were modest, ranging from 13% to 67%, for TCS and Tape.
TCS shows promise for promoting new counseling behaviors following participation in workshop training. However, further work is needed to improve supervision methods in order to bring more clinicians to high levels of proficiency and facilitate the dissemination of evidence-based practices.
motivational interviewing; substance abuse; clinician training
A longitudinal study of employed individuals was used to test the relationship between social investment at work—the act of cognitively and emotionally committing to one’s job—and longitudinal and cross-sectional personality trait development. Participants provided ratings of personality traits and social investment at work at two time-points, separated by approximately three years. Data were analyzed using latent change models. Cross-sectional results showed that extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness and emotional stability were related to social investment at work. Additionally, a positive association was found between longitudinal change in social investment in work and change in personality traits—especially conscientiousness. Finally, the correlated changes in social investment and personality traits were invariant across age groups, suggesting that personality traits remain malleable across the lifespan.
personality development; personality change; social investment
Cryptococcus neoformans (Cn) is a pathogenic yeast and the cause of cryptococcal meningitis. Prevalence of disease between males and females is skewed, with males having an increased incidence of disease. Based on the reported gender susceptibility differences to Cn in the literature, we used clinical isolates from Botswanan HIV-infected patients to test the hypothesis that different gender environments exerted different selective pressures on Cn. When we examined this data set, we found that men had significantly higher risk of death despite having significantly higher CD4+ T lymphocyte counts upon admittance to the hospital. These observations suggested that Cn strains are uniquely adapted to different host gender environments and that the male immune response may be less efficient in controlling Cn infection. To discriminate between these possibilities, we tested whether there were phenotypic differences between strains isolated from males and females and whether there was an interaction between Cn and the host immune response. Virulence phenotypes showed that Cn isolates from females had longer doubling times and released more capsular glucoronoxylomannan (GXM). The presence of testosterone but not 17-β estradiol was associated with higher levels of GXM release for a laboratory strain and 28 clinical isolates. We also measured phagocytic efficiency, survival of Cn, and amount of killing of human macrophages by Cn after incubation with four isolates. While macrophages from females phagocytosed more Cn than macrophages from males, male macrophages had a higher fungal burden and showed increased killing by Cn. These data are consistent with the hypothesis that differential interaction between Cn and macrophages within different gender environments contribute to the increased prevalence of cryptococcosis in males. This could be related to differential expression of cryptococcal virulence genes and capsule metabolism, changes in Cn phagocytosis and increased death of Cn-infected macrophages.
Kingman Reef and Palmyra Atoll in the central Pacific are among the most remote coral reefs on the planet. Here we describe spatial patterns in their benthic communities across reef habitats and depths, and consider these in the context of oceanographic gradients. Benthic communities at both locations were dominated by calcifying organisms (54–86% cover), namely hard corals (20–74%) and crustose coralline algae (CCA) (10–36%). While turf algae were relatively common at both locations (8–22%), larger fleshy macroalgae were virtually absent at Kingman (<1%) and rare at Palmyra (0.7–9.3%). Hard coral cover was higher, but with low diversity, in more sheltered habitats such as Palmyra’s backreef and Kingman’s patch reefs. Almost exclusive dominance by slow-growing Porites on Kingman’s patch reefs provides indirect evidence of competitive exclusion, probably late in a successional sequence. In contrast, the more exposed forereef habitats at both Kingman and Palmyra had higher coral diversity and were characterized by fast-growing corals (e.g., Acropora and Pocillopora), indicative of more dynamic environments. In general at both locations, soft coral cover increased with depth, likely reflecting increasingly efficient heterotrophic abilities. CCA and fleshy macroalgae cover decreased with depth, likely due to reduced light. Cover of other calcified macroalgae, predominantly Halimeda, increased with depth. This likely reflects the ability of many calcifying macroalgae to efficiently harvest light at deeper depths, in combination with an increased nutrient supply from upwelling promoting growth. At Palmyra, patterns of hard coral cover with depth were inconsistent, but cover peaked at mid-depths at Kingman. On Kingman’s forereef, benthic community composition was strongly related to wave energy, with hard coral cover decreasing and becoming more spatially clustered with increased wave energy, likely as a result of physical damage leading to patches of coral in localized shelter. In contrast, the cover of turf algae at Kingman was positively related to wave energy, reflecting their ability to rapidly colonize newly available space. No significant patterns with wave energy were observed on Palmyra’s forereef, suggesting that a more detailed model is required to study biophysical coupling there. Kingman, Palmyra, and other remote oceanic reefs provide interesting case studies to explore biophysical influences on benthic ecology and dynamics.
Coral; Macroalgae; Zonation; Wave exposure; Kingman Reef; Palmyra Atoll; Spatial clustering; Wave impacts; Benthic competition
Honaucins A–C were isolated from the cyanobacterium Leptolyngbya crossbyana which was found overgrowing corals on the Hawaiian coast. Honaucin A consists of (S)-3-hydroxy-γ-butyrolactone and 4-chlorocrotonic acid which are connected via an ester linkage. Honaucin A and its two natural analogs exhibit potent inhibition of bioluminescence, a quorum sensing-dependent phenotype, in Vibrio harveyi BB120 as well as of lipopolysaccharide-stimulated nitric oxide production in the murine macrophage cell line RAW264.7. The decrease in nitric oxide production was accompanied by a decrease in the transcripts of several pro-inflammatory cytokines, most dramatically interleukin-1β. Synthesis of honaucin A as well as a number of analogs and subsequent evaluation in anti-inflammation and quorum sensing inhibition bioassays revealed the essential structural features for activity in this chemical class, and provided analogs with greater potency in both assays.
Objective. To design and implement a Medical Outreach Experience elective course and assess its impact on students’ level of confidence in organizing future medical outreach trips, providing population-specific pharmaceutical care, and achieving learning outcomes.
Design. A 2-credit hour elective course was designed for second- and third-year pharmacy students. The course was structured to include 3 sections over 1 semester, a 10-week training and preparation phase, followed by a weeklong international outreach experience and post-outreach reflection.
Assessment. Student achievement of curricular outcomes was measured using in-class activities, readings, reflections, and longitudinal projects, as well as performance during the outreach trip. Results from pre- and post-course surveys demonstrated significant improvement in student-rated confidence in several components of outreach trip organization and provision of pharmaceutical care.
Conclusions. Students completing the course exhibited increased confidence in their abilities to organize and practice on a medical outreach trip. All students met the learning outcomes of the course, which included providing comprehensive patient-specific pharmaceutical care, communicating effectively, promoting health improvement and self-care, thinking critically, and appropriately managing and using resources of the healthcare system. Students agreed that the elective course was a valuable addition to the curriculum.
medical missions; public health; curriculum; elective course; pharmaceutical care
Recent meta-analyses of European ancestry subjects show strong evidence for association between smoking quantity and multiple genetic variants on chromosome 15q25. This meta-analysis extends the examination of association between distinct genes in the CHRNA5-CHRNA3-CHRNB4 region and smoking quantity to Asian and African American populations to confirm and refine specific reported associations.
Association results for a dichotomized cigarettes smoked per day (CPD) phenotype in 27 datasets (European ancestry (N=14,786), Asian (N=6,889), and African American (N=10,912) for a total of 32,587 smokers) were meta-analyzed by population and results were compared across all three populations.
We demonstrate association between smoking quantity and markers in the chromosome 15q25 region across all three populations, and narrow the region of association. Of the variants tested, only rs16969968 is associated with smoking (p < 0.01) in each of these three populations (OR=1.33, 95%C.I.=1.25–1.42, p=1.1×10−17 in meta-analysis across all population samples). Additional variants displayed a consistent signal in both European ancestry and Asian datasets, but not in African Americans.
The observed consistent association of rs16969968 with heavy smoking across multiple populations, combined with its known biological significance, suggests rs16969968 is most likely a functional variant that alters risk for heavy smoking. We interpret additional association results that differ across populations as providing evidence for additional functional variants, but we are unable to further localize the source of this association. Using the cross-population study paradigm provides valuable insights to narrow regions of interest and inform future biological experiments.
smoking; genetics; meta-analysis; cross-population
Competition between reef-building corals and benthic algae is of key importance for reef dynamics. These interactions occur on many spatial scales, ranging from chemical to regional. Using microprobes, 16S rDNA pyrosequencing and underwater surveys, we examined the interactions between the reef-building coral Montastraea annularis and four types of benthic algae. The macroalgae Dictyota bartayresiana and Halimeda opuntia, as well as a mixed consortium of turf algae, caused hypoxia on the adjacent coral tissue. Turf algae were also associated with major shifts in the bacterial communities at the interaction zones, including more pathogens and virulence genes. In contrast to turf algae, interactions with crustose coralline algae (CCA) and M. annularis did not appear to be antagonistic at any scale. These zones were not hypoxic, the microbes were not pathogen-like and the abundance of coral–CCA interactions was positively correlated with per cent coral cover. We propose a model in which fleshy algae (i.e. some species of turf and fleshy macroalgae) alter benthic competition dynamics by stimulating bacterial respiration and promoting invasion of virulent bacteria on corals. This gives fleshy algae a competitive advantage over corals when human activities, such as overfishing and eutrophication, remove controls on algal abundance. Together, these results demonstrate the intricate connections and mechanisms that structure coral reefs.
turf algae; crustose coralline algae; bacteria; competition; ecology
Live-attenuated influenza vaccine (LAIV) is delivered to vaccine recipients using a nasal spray syringe. LAIV delivered by this method is immunogenic at current doses; however, improvements in nasal delivery might allow for significant dose reduction. We investigated LAIV vaccination in ferrets using a high efficiency nebulizer designed for nasal delivery. LAIV nasal aerosol elicited high levels of serum neutralizing antibodies and protected ferrets from homologous virus challenge at conventional (107 TCID50) and significantly reduced (103 TCID50) doses. Aerosol LAIV also provided a significant level of subtype-specific cross protection. These results demonstrate the dose-sparing potential of nebulizer-based nasal aerosol LAIV delivery.
influenza; vaccine; dose-sparing; ferret; aerosol
The Rat Genome Database (RGD) is the premier repository of rat genomic and genetic data and currently houses >40 000 rat gene records as well as human and mouse orthologs, >2000 rat and 1900 human quantitative trait loci (QTLs) records and >2900 rat strain records. Biological information curated for these data objects includes disease associations, phenotypes, pathways, molecular functions, biological processes and cellular components. Recently, a project was initiated at RGD to incorporate quantitative phenotype data for rat strains, in addition to the currently existing qualitative phenotype data for rat strains, QTLs and genes. A specialized curation tool was designed to generate manual annotations with up to six different ontologies/vocabularies used simultaneously to describe a single experimental value from the literature. Concurrently, three of those ontologies needed extensive addition of new terms to move the curation forward. The curation interface development, as well as ontology development, was an ongoing process during the early stages of the PhenoMiner curation project.
LJ001 is a lipophilic thiazolidine derivative that inhibits the entry of numerous enveloped viruses at non-cytotoxic concentrations (IC50≤0.5 µM), and was posited to exploit the physiological difference between static viral membranes and biogenic cellular membranes. We now report on the molecular mechanism that results in LJ001's specific inhibition of virus-cell fusion.
The antiviral activity of LJ001 was light-dependent, required the presence of molecular oxygen, and was reversed by singlet oxygen (1O2) quenchers, qualifying LJ001 as a type II photosensitizer. Unsaturated phospholipids were the main target modified by LJ001-generated 1O2. Hydroxylated fatty acid species were detected in model and viral membranes treated with LJ001, but not its inactive molecular analog, LJ025. 1O2-mediated allylic hydroxylation of unsaturated phospholipids leads to a trans-isomerization of the double bond and concurrent formation of a hydroxyl group in the middle of the hydrophobic lipid bilayer. LJ001-induced 1O2-mediated lipid oxidation negatively impacts on the biophysical properties of viral membranes (membrane curvature and fluidity) critical for productive virus-cell membrane fusion. LJ001 did not mediate any apparent damage on biogenic cellular membranes, likely due to multiple endogenous cytoprotection mechanisms against phospholipid hydroperoxides.
Based on our understanding of LJ001's mechanism of action, we designed a new class of membrane-intercalating photosensitizers to overcome LJ001's limitations for use as an in vivo antiviral agent. Structure activity relationship (SAR) studies led to a novel class of compounds (oxazolidine-2,4-dithiones) with (1) 100-fold improved in vitro potency (IC50<10 nM), (2) red-shifted absorption spectra (for better tissue penetration), (3) increased quantum yield (efficiency of 1O2 generation), and (4) 10–100-fold improved bioavailability. Candidate compounds in our new series moderately but significantly (p≤0.01) delayed the time to death in a murine lethal challenge model of Rift Valley Fever Virus (RVFV). The viral membrane may be a viable target for broad-spectrum antivirals that target virus-cell fusion.
The threat of emerging and re-emerging viruses underscores the need to develop broad-spectrum antivirals. LJ001 is a non-cytotoxic, membrane-targeted, broad-spectrum antiviral previously reported to inhibit the entry of many lipid-enveloped viruses. Here, we delineate the molecular mechanism that underlies LJ001's antiviral activity. LJ001 generates singlet oxygen (1O2) in the membrane bilayer; 1O2-mediated lipid oxidation results in changes to the biophysical properties of the viral membrane that negatively impacts its ability to undergo virus-cell fusion. These changes are not apparent on LJ001-treated cellular membranes due to their repair by cellular lipid biosynthesis. Thus, we generated a new class of membrane-targeted broad-spectrum antivirals with improved photochemical, photophysical, and pharmacokinetic properties leading to encouraging in vivo efficacy against a lethal emerging pathogen. This study provides a mechanistic paradigm for the development of membrane-targeting broad-spectrum antivirals that target the biophysical process underlying virus-cell fusion and that exploit the difference between inert viral membranes and their biogenic cellular counterparts.